After years of being asked for recommendations from patients, Mila Ioussifova, OD, decided to come up with her own solution for clean makeup. When she officially launched her HEKA Clean products to the public in late 2019, she joined the ranks of several other female optometrists and optometry-supporting companies who have created similar products—especially to serve their dry eye patients.
“The idea came up organically with how often I treat dry eye,” she says. “We do a lot of educating that our skin is the biggest organ on our body and that we should use clean products on our skin,” she says. She also notes the lack of transparency in many skin product companies. “The U.S. Food and Drug Administration doesn’t have a lot of control over what goes into skin care products, and what people use every day has hundreds or even thousands of harmful chemicals. The long-term repercussions can be devastating.”
When Dr. Ioussifova decided to begin experimenting on her makeup remover formula, she was only using it on herself. She loved the results. “I myself have dry eyes, and, as a dry eye specialist, I knew I needed to use clean products. I used it, and my eyelids, eyes and skin felt nourished.” Eventually, she branched out and had friends and family test it, as well. Once she was confident in her formula—which includes organic tea tree, argon and lavender oils—she moved the production to a lab where each batch could be made consistently.
When the product hit her shelves and Dr. Ioussifova was able to recommend and immediately sell it to her patients, the response was overwhelmingly positive. “Our patients love it and other dry eye specialists like Tracy Doll, OD, FAAO, at Pacific University College of Optometry, use and recommend it to their patients with dry eye disease,” she says. “We’re hoping more doctors know about HEKA clean, along with other options that already exist.”
When it came to finding a name for her product, Dr. Ioussifova turned to history. “Heka is the Egyptian goddess of magic and medicine,” she says. “In ancient Egypt, makeup was a huge part of the culture, so we’re incorporating the culture into the name.”
MAKING HER OWN WAY
“I feel so honored to be included among the great-minded optometrists who have the same vision as I do,” she says. “The beauty industry isn’t going anywhere. We can’t tell patients to stop wearing makeup, [but we can] offer clean products to patients who have been in search of these things for years.”
One challenge is that consumers don’t really know what to look for but would trust their eye doctor’s recommendation. Dr. Ioussifova also points out the public’s willingness to research and vet the ingredients in food but not the products they put on their skin.
In addition, many ODs aren’t entirely familiar with the beauty industry and may feel limited in their discussions with patients. “The biggest thing is that I want to support other optometrists. More and more are interested in the holistic comprehensive approach,” she says. “We know dry eye is a multifactorial disease, so no single treatment will address it.” She encourages her fellow ODs to consult their patients of any gender to discuss the products they put near their eyes and face — from makeup to shaving cream. “Educate them. Know what the options are.”
Dr. Ioussifova is passionate about what she does. From recognizing the other ODs who have pioneered in the clean makeup field to her holistic educators, she remains conscious of the community. “I am just honored to be contributing to that mission, honored to be included in that same category.”
Learn more about Dr. Ioussifova and HEKA Clean.
Read more stories about how doctors incorporate beauty and beauty services into their practices.